Do you dream in color? If you answer Yes, how can you be sure? Before you recount your vivid memory of a dream featuring all the colors of the rainbow, consider that in the 1950s, researchers found that most people reported dreaming in black and white. In the 1960s—when most movies were in color and more people had color television sets—the vast majority of reported dreams contained color. The most likely explanation for this, according to philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel, is not that exposure to black-and-white media made people misremember their dreams.
Can conscious experience be described accurately? Can we give reliable accounts of our sensory experiences and pains, our inner speech and imagery, our felt emotions? The question is central not only to our humanistic understanding of who we are but also to the burgeoning scientific field of consciousness studies.
What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.